Judge Dredd Predicts the Future: Part 2

1704131-dredd  For 40 years, 2000 AD has provided high concept (and often silly) post-apocalyptic sci-fi with Judge Dredd.  Somehow 2000 AD  writers have always been ahead of the curve on technological and social change. Looking at the series as a whole, it is easy to see where our own world has crossed into that of Mega-City One. With over 2000 Judge Dredd stories, it’s no surprise that some of them have overlapped with reality, but it is still fun to observe and dissect the parallels. For this series, we will periodically look at three different Judge Dredd stories and their real life counterparts.

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Undercover Santa: This one might be a little too fresh, but its parallel is oddly specific. New Year’s Eve 2016: a gunman dressed as Santa Claus attacked a nightclub in Istanbul. Near the attack were several undercover police officers also dressed as Santa Claus. In 2000 AD, Dredd donned the famous red robe and white beard to catch a group of robbers dressed as Saint Nick. Dredd’s story ends on a somewhat happier note, with the lead robber (Fatt Blatt) murdered by a sniper. Unfortunately, the Istanbul shooter was able to kill nearly 40 people.

Source

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Futsie: This one hasn’t quite pierced our reality yet, but we’re starting to see the first signs. In the Dredd universe, there is a mental condition known as “Futsie” or “Future Shock.” Victims of this illness cannot handle living in the stressful conditions of the 22nd century, which usually causes them to embark on a killing spree. In reality, emerging research suggests that our brains are rewiring themselves in response to 21st century technology.

At this time, I would point to two examples. The first is phantom vibration syndrome, a feeling that your phone has buzzed, even if it is not in your pocket. The validation that comes with new technologies is causing our brains to create false alarms.It’s an interesting subject and worth a look at the source.

Second, I would look to studies on social media usage and depression. One study from the University of Pittsburgh suggests that obsession with social media usage is linked to depression. Another study suggests that after a certain number of social media friends, your enjoyment quickly declines. This relates to Dunbar’s number, a theory that human mental capacity is limited to roughly 150 social relations. Initial research suggests that there is a rising possibility of depression as humans continue to expand their social structures through substantial virtual interaction. This, in one way or another is a kind of trauma that would not be possible without future technology. Therefore in some small way it seems to be the start of future shock or futsie.

It’s important to remember that this research is in its infancy, but it still represents a disturbing trend.

Source: Phantom Vibration

Source: Social Media Depression

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Gainers and Feeders: Although Fat Acceptance was mentioned in “Dredd Predicts the Future: Part 1,” this is a little different. “Two Ton” Tony Tubbs appeared in 2000 AD on October 19, 1985. At that time, having a character obsessed with gaining weight was a joke. Indeed, the fatties were often used for humor. At one point in Dredd’s history, fatties hijacked a food convoy by jumping from a cliff and crushing the trucks beneath their bulk. 31 years later, gainers and feeders are a real life trend and relationship status.

As you may imagine, the gainer is someone who is overfed for the purpose of gaining weight. The feeder provides the food. Though not hugely prevalent, this trend has launched web shows, documentaries, and even a dating site exclusively for gainers. Regardless of your stance on the trend, it is interesting to see how some couples display affection in a manner that was originally perceived as a form of dark comedy.

How else has Judge Dredd predicted the future? Tell us in the comments!

Judge Dredd: Superfiend

Judge Dredd: Superfiend is an online mini-series made for Judge Dredd fans by Judge Dredd fans. The project was produced by Adi Shankar (executive producer of Dredd) as a passion project. In his introduction, Shankar says that Superfiend was made as a callback to Saturday morning cartoons or 90s MTV. Superfiend takes place in the “bootleg universe” a world similar to the Judge Dredd comics, but with some added silliness and character relationships.

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Story: Superfiend loosely follows the story of Young Death – Boyhood of a Superfiend before portraying Death in Mega-City One. Superfiend does a great job showing a young Sidney De’ath (later Judge Death) and his journey to becoming Judge Dredd’s greatest enemy, but Death is lacking when it comes to the third act.

Thankfully, Superfiend is more comedic and far less dark than the original Young Death. Judge Death kills a lot of people, but there’s no incident where he murders a crying child. Superfiend is fun and tame throughout, fitting with the often silly tone of the Judge Dredd Case Files.

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Superfiend portrays a very different Judge Death.

Despite its relatively short length, the series has everything: exciting chase scenes (synced with a great soundtrack), developed character relationships, and over the top action.  Superfiend is short, punchy, and funny.

Sound Design: The sound design alone makes Superfiend worth talking about. Judge Death’s mouth always makes a rubbery noise when he smiles.  Mean machine’s metal arm squeaks as it moves. Every tiny movement has a distinctive sound, better connecting the audience to the action. There’s never a quiet moment in Superfiend and it works to the show’s advantage. In a streak of dark humor, one of the best examples is a disembodied head spinning on a record that is stuck repeating “I’m in heaven.”

What’s more impressive is that an original soundtrack was made for and synced to each scene.

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 Bootleg Universe: The “bootleg universe” is meant to be a fun and light-hearted parody. The rising action to the climax involves Judge Death doing things that his comic counterpart would never think of, but because everything in the series is overextended and caricatured, it’s played as comedic. Does a fan project need to stay true to the source material? I’ll leave that one up to you.

The environments are a lot of fun. Mega-highways are portrayed as winding roads that lead to nowhere. The Disco Crater has the same 80’s punk vibe as Warhammer 40k’s Necromunda. McFatty’s was never seen in the comics, but is a great excuse to put the fatties in the show.

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My one gripe would be that Judge Death’s creators, Nausea and Phobia are handled awkwardly. It was likely a matter of pacing, but they appear from nowhere just to move the story forward or to have an interesting action scene. Phobia and Nausea are important to the Judge Death story line (particularly Necropolis), but it’s never explained where the sisters came from. It would have been interesting to see Superfiend expand on the two, but it likely would have ruined the pacing.

References for comic fans: Superfiend is surprisingly dense. There are a lot of sight gags for fans of the comics, but these don’t disrupt the story. Strange items that appear in the comics are briefly explained in a way that is informative for new audience members, but doesn’t break the flow for Judge Dredd veterans. I recommend going to watch Superfiend first, but here are all the references I was able to find. To normal viewers, they’re just background characters, but to Judge Dredd readers, they’re nice little winks.

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Fink Angel without his poison

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Father Earth makes a brief appearance

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Fergee (no not that one)

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Tony Tubbs sitting in McFattys

Edit: It seems that I missed a few obvious references at McFattys!

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The Abdominal Arnie Stodgman! Hiding in plain sight.

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Dick Porker, leader of the fatties.

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Even the framing of the image is the same…

I realize now that almost every character in Superfiend was lovingly pulled directly from the comics. Each of these referential characters is extremely detailed, making it all the more clear that the creators and artists did their homework and really care about the series. With all these references, I’m surprised they couldn’t find a place for an Otto Sump advertisement.

Overall, Judge Dredd: Superfiend is a fan project with high production value that diverts from the source material and has a lot of fun doing it. From the story to the sound design, every part of this series feels like it was made with love and attention to detail. If you have time, give this one a watch, the whole series is only 30 minutes.

Did you see any other comic references? If so, share them in the comments!

An Introduction to Judge Dredd

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Judge Dredd. He’s the only comic book hero I truly enjoy. From humble beginnings in the pages of 2000 AD to movies and even video games, Judge Dredd has been a cultural icon of law and order for nearly 40 years. Whether it be on the streets of Mega-City One, the radioactive wastelands of the Cursed Earth, or even deep space, Judge Dredd not only upholds the law, he is the law.

Concept

Getting into Judge Dredd can be daunting for some. The character has a lot of history and ages in real time. The first issue of Judge Dredd takes place in the year 2099. Nuclear war has crippled the Earth, leaving endless deserts populated by hideous mutants while surviving Humans have been resigned to a handful of walled Mega-Cities.
A single Mega-City can stretch hundreds of miles and usually has a population in the hundreds of millions. Manual labor in these cities has been widely replaced by robots, leaving the unemployment rate anywhere between 96%-99%. Massive unemployment has caused many citizens to turn to crime. In a single day, there may be thousands of crimes in a single district.

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The Judges are all that stands in the way of complete lawlessness.They are judge, jury, and executioner. Of all the Judges, one has proven himself time and time again as not only an exemplification of the law, but a hero of Mega-City One. He is Judge Dredd.

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For almost 40 years, Judge Dredd has dealt with: robot uprisings, multiple genocides, mutant children, psychic horrors from parallel dimensions, werewolves, zombies, aliens, and he’s even been bodyguard to an Orangutan. Through all of that, Judge Dredd has maintained a stern persona. He is the epitome of the “lawful neutral” archetype. Dredd is the law and the law is his life, but the Judge is not “lawful stupid”, he focuses on the most important crime at hand, but still deals with minor infractions during a slow day.

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Despite hist reputation for being rugged and ruthless, Dredd occasionally reveals his softer side. The Judge has a niece (daughter of his evil twin) who he shows more compassion for than anyone else. Although Dredd is supposed to uphold the law completely, he has occasionally fought against the Justice Department whenever it strays too far or refuses to use common sense.

One of the long ongoing jokes in the series is that Dredd’s face is never shown. The Judge has removed his helmet several times throughout the series, but his face is always hidden or changed beyond recognition.

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Judge Dredd is post-nuclear, but that is merely the backdrop.

Fun

Reading Judge Dredd is fun. The world is filled with interesting super-science, silly fashion trends, great action, and funny social commentary.Interestingly enough, Judge Dredd has correctly predicted the future on several occasions (sugar tax, fat acceptance, Olympic blood doping, etc). Despite a mostly unchanged titular character, the series has stayed fresh for over 40 years. When you open a copy of 2000 AD or one of the Judge Dredd Case Files, you never know what you’re going to get. One week it may be an epidemic of fatties stealing food, another it may be a second nuclear war or robot vampires. No matter what,  Judge Dredd’s adventures are always entertaining.
As 2000 AD releases their 2000th issue, I only hope that old Joe Dredd still has a few more years on the streets of Mega-City One.

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